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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Photoshop Tutorial: Selecting Foliage & Hair, Extracting Background, and Other Mission Impossible

Some days ago, someone asked "Is there an easy way to remove the background around hair?"
I promised that reader I'd write an article about it, so here it is. Today, we'll see some Photoshop tricks on how to make some very fine selections. In other words, how to use the selection tools and filters available to select hair, fur, foliage, and other difficult items. Usually the purpose of such actions is to extract (or substitute) a background, but in some cases there might be some other reasons too, like applying a filter on a person's hair, etc.

Let's be upfront about this:
There is no easy, fast, one-fits-all solution.
In other words, different images will require different approaches. Some images will be easier than others. More importantly: very often, the quality of the selection will be directly proportional to the amount of work you're willing to put. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, don't expect miracles. If, conversely, you have the patience to work on an image "until it's good", I can offer you some ideas and choices that can make the difference between 1 hour of work and 5 hours of work. Remember that a digital image, when opened on Photoshop, is nothing but a collection of pixels - lots and lots of pixels. Theoretically (strictly theoretically!) you are able to reconstruct it from scratch, painting it pixel by pixel. Practically, nobody can or should do that. The whole point is to make our job easier with Photoshop, not harder.

Isolating/selecting hair is one of the most difficult challenges in Photoshop

So, with these in mind, let's begin!

Friday, August 19, 2016

New Nikon Products (and what Does It All Mean)

Nikon has officially announced a few new products. Normally I don't bother reporting on such things - unless there's something truly interesting going on - but this time I'll make an exception. No, no, there isn't anything cataclysmic happening. No compact-sized full-frame Nikon camera, and no wide-angle DX primes either.

More Nikon cameras and lenses available! Hot or not?
 So, what's the big idea?

I'll get to that, but first let's see what the new products are:
The lens comes in fact in two versions, VR and non-VR. It's not worth spending more than a second on the non-VR version, so I won't talk about it at all.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Nikon versus Canon Colors: Magic Skin Tones and Other Myths

Yes, another "Nikon or Canon" article. Normally I wouldn't bother with something like that, but every now and then (read: at least once per week!) I do get questions such as "Honestly, which one is better, Nikon or Canon?" or "Is Nikon or Canon better for portrait photography?"

Sometimes, someone slightly more aware of the situation might ask something in the direction of "straight out of the camera, which one has more vivid reds?" This is a question that makes slightly more sense to ask, but only just.

Nikon or Canon?

As I have mentioned here and here, any modern DSLR can be tuned (not to mention, its RAW files can be fine-tuned after the fact) to produce results identical or at least very, very similar to any other DSLR of the same generation. Which means, if you like the output of your friend's Canon, it is trivial to adjust your (let's say, Nikon) camera in a way that matches that output. If you can't, it means something else is to blame and not a Nikon-versus-Canon thing.

Let's take a look at this in more detail.